When the Same Feels Good.

My three kids have been raised in the same house, by the same parents. Two of them even shared the same womb for 9 months, and have pretty much lived the same life, everyday.

But they are not the same and neither is my love for them. My husband BJ and I love and nurture their hearts, passions and interests, uniquely.

Often times, in our best effort to not dish out this cookie cutter love on them, the way we honor and nurture them as individuals often feels like we are leaving another one out or overlooking the other.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

They don’t want to be loved the same, but sometimes the same feels more comforting. Sometimes the same feels good.

Do you ever feel like this? You find yourself praying and desperately wanting a unique, unlike anyone else kind of story, purpose and vision; yet, secretly you desire the same?

In the same way I encourage my kids when they want the same, let me encourage you. Heck, let me encourage myself!

You don’t want the same, and, eventhough it feels comforting in the moment; your story, is so unique, so beautiful it doesn’t deserve to be compared to anyone else.

God wants to love you, uniquely! So let Him! Allow Him to gift you, show you and lead you in a personal way.

When you really pause and reflect, you know that you don’t really want the same.

God sees you and you matter to Him. He has not overlooked you or forgotten about you. Instead, He has plans, dreams, gifts and moments crafted just for you, with your name on it!

Embrace your story, be fully present, with a grateful heart towards your Heavenly Father, knowing that He doesn’t love you the same, but loves you, uniquely.

XOXO

 

 

 

God is Good.

“God is good!”  is a churchy saying we hear all the time. It’s fun to say when I’ve found the perfect parking spot or when things have gone my way. But, this past weekend, I couldn’t stir up enough courage to declare this as truth for me. Sure, I think that God is good, but do I really believe  that He is good, to me?

About 9 months ago, I saw that one of my new friends was hosting a women’s conference for her church! I knew instantly that I was supposed to be there. I had no idea why, but I felt that there was something that I needed to hear and experience.

This past weekend, I met my best friend (who lives in California) in Kansas City for this conference. If you know our story, my husband and I are smack in the middle of the biggest transition of our lives. What I didn’t know 9 months ago, God did!

We arrived with expectant hearts, and ready to spend some much needed girl-time together for the weekend. I arrived a little earlier than my best friend and had about an hour all to myself in the hotel room. And, all the mommas said a big ole, AMEN!

As I belly flopped onto the comfy bed,  I asked God to do one thing. I placed my hand over my heart and asked God to…

Do something NEW in me.” 

From start to finish, the conference was powerful, prophetic and everything this girl needed, and more.

During worship, the team sang a song that I had never heard. The lyrics declare-

You are good, good, oh-ohh
You are good, good, oh-ohh
You are good, good, oh-oh-ohh
You are good, good, oh-ohh

You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down

From the top of my lungs, I declared that God is good over and over— Until it came to the point in the song that declared that He’s never going to let me down.  And as the room  of women began shouting this powerful truth, I stood in silence.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find the bravery to say such things.

Did I believe God is good?  Yes! Did I believe He was good to me? I wasn’t sure. 

I have experienced disappointment, hardship and trials. I have watched friends lose their children and marriages end. I have had prayers that I feel go unanswered and things not turn out the way I desired.

I stood there as tears began to form a puddle on the floor underneath me, wanting to say those words, but not being able to.

I placed my hand over my heart, once again, and as I did I looked over, best friend looked right in my eyes and said, “He’s not going to let you down.”

I searched my soul, my heart and my thoughts, and as I began to take the pain, the hurt and the moments when I have felt let down to Him, I began to see that although I have experienced these things, He hasn’t let me down.

Although things hadn’t turned out the way I wanted them to, He wasn’t the author of my pain…He wasn’t the reason for my let down. 

Instead, He was the one who, every time, took my broken pieces and made something beautiful.

He was my comfort when I felt shattered, my healer when I experienced pain, my provider when I felt uncertainty and my ever present help in time of need.

He has never let me down and He isn’t going to let me down.

If I’m transparent, friend, it’s still a little hard typing these words. But I know that just like anything else, I have to develop my faith muscles to believe this as truth.

Maybe you feel like me, too. You believe that He is good, but you aren’t convinced that He is good to you. Can I whisper something to you today?

He’s never going to let you down. 

Will you experience hardship? Yes.

Will you experience heartbreak? Yes.

Will He use all things for your good? Yes.

I have kept this song on repeat in my car and every time, I find my hand over my heart, and each time I say it, I believe it more and more.

I listen to it so much, that my kids have it stuck in their heads! When I begin to shrink back, hold back or re-think this bold declaration, they begin belting it out.

Their childlike faith brings out the best in my faith and I sing along with them.

Because this song is true- He is good, He is good to me and He’s never going to let me down.

He is good. He is good to you and He’s never going to let you down.

He is not the author of your pain, but the One who took your pain to the cross. He is not bringing pain on your life, but will use your pain for His glory.

If you can’t shout it out, yet….whisper it. Listen to it, over and over again, until you believe it!

 

 

Stories to Tell.

I have a really funny story I’d like to share with you. It’s about how I went from Mother of the Year to the epitome of #MomFail in a matter of seconds.

This past week was spirit week at school. Every day the students and teachers dress in a certain theme. Monday was favorite movie day, so you could wear a shirt with your favorite movie on it.

Well of course, we don’t have any of those kinds of shirts, so Monday morning, the girls and I hopped in the car and made the fastest Walmart trip in the history of man kind.

We found our shirts in like 2.5 seconds, checked out and by the time I was pulling out of the parking lot, the girls were changed into their new shirts.

We even stopped for Starbucks on the way since we had so much time to spare.

But this story isn’t about Monday, it’s about Wednesday.

Wednesday rolled around and we were now three days in without Daddy around. He’s been working in Tampa and momma has been holdin’ it down at home. So my brain was a little fuzzy and coffee was still in the distant future.

Wednesday was Hawaiian day and I knew we had some leis in their room, I just had to find them. After rummaging through their dress up clothes, I found them!

Not only that, but, I remembered we had two Hawaiian type shirts from the summer. Score!

We loaded up, headed out, dropped little bro off at school and we were on our way! I was sippin my coffee and as I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw the cutest hawaiin girls singing songs and ready for their day.

We were half way through the week, and I was getting things done, make-shifting spirit week outfits and feeling like Mother of the Year.

Until we pulled into the school parking lot and we’re greeted by a swarm of wacky hats/Hair and socks.

It wasn’t hawaiin day, y’all… it was Wacky Wednesday.

I might have been given a pass…. if I didn’t work at the dang school! Haha!

The girls saw what I saw and I yelled, “Girls, it’s not Hawaiin day, it’s wacky Wednesday, but rest assured, momma’s got this.”

The girls made sure I prepped the teachers and staff who were looking at their cute selves that we were going to ‘figure it out.’

I had a field trip to go on with my students, so before I left I had to make sure these girls were wacky.

I found extra uniforms shirts and managed to located not one, but two wacky looking headbands.

Before the bell rang, my girls were wacky and I could sip my now iced cold coffee, knowing, it was all good in the hood.

It was crazy and heck, would have been a whole lot easier if I was able to avoid all that craziness, but, without these moments, we would have no stories to tell.

BJ and I have had our fair share of unexpected moments. Moments you did not plan for or experiences that weren’t exactly fun in the moment.

But, one thing we have fought to do, is laugh IN the moments.

Most of us, when we share these stories, we laugh and find them to be comedic and awesome. But, we usually don’t laugh while they are happening. We are so focused trying to fix it or fight it that we don’t allow ourselves to find the joy and humor in them.

I try my best to laugh, to exhale and to remember that these are the moments that give me the stories.

If all had gone go plan, Wacky Wednesday would have just been that. But now, my girls and I share a funny story that we have now told about ten times!

So, laugh in the moments. If they’re going to be funny one day, let them be funny today. And remember, without these moments, we don’t have stories. And, if these are our stories, let’s make them good ones to share!

If you look close enough you can see the hawaiin shirt underneath, haha! ✊🏼

All About That Base

A couple of weeks ago, I competed in my first ever, DRI TRI Competion and I won! Haha. I’m as shocked as you are, haha! And as awesome as that is,  this post isn’t about the competition. This post is about the days leading up to this day.

A DRI TRI consists of a 2,000 meter row, 300 body weight excerises and a 5K run. It was hard and it was fun.

9 months ago,  I stepped foot on to a treadmill and was completely gassed out at about 4mph. I remember huffing and puffing my way through the workout. 4mph was my base pace.

My workouts on the treadmill have consisted of base pace, push pace and all out efforts. When I began, my all out effort for 30 seconds was about 8mph.

Each time I stepped foot on to that treadmill, my coaches helped me push myself past my limitations and with every new workout I felt myself become stronger and stronger.

The power, strength and endurance workouts were HARD. They required everything I had-but they made me stronger.

With every HARD workout I completed, I obtained a new level of strength. A couple of weeks ago when I participated in the DRI TRI competition, I ran the majority of my 5K at 8mph.

What was once my all out effort had now become my new, endurance, push pace effort.

Resistance builds us, strengthens us and allows us to reach new levels in all areas of our life. This is a physical example of what happens mentally, emotionally and spiritually when we allow hard times, difficult situations build us!

This competion came on the heels of a big chapter closing in our life. A chapter that came with many HARD moments, moments that required all that I had!

As I finished the competition I had a moment of great reflection. I didn’t know my time or I how I placed overall, but what I did know was that I finished! I knew that where I had started looked nothing like where I was now.

My feelings weren’t just about the competition, but about the season I was saying goodbye to. Where I began looks nothing like where I am now and I have resistance, hard moments and a coach (God, my creator) who never lets me settle for where I am, to thank for it!

What used to be break me and overwhelm me doesn’t seem that impossible any more, because I am stronger.

Please don’t read this as I am boasting about results, but rather celebrating the grind!

This isn’t a BEFORE and AFTER story, because progress is a forever process. Pushing past our limits is the only way we continue to grow stronger, wiser and how we become more capable, to take on new challenges.

Facing challenges and hard moments isn’t easy, believe me friend I am right there with you. But, pushing through them does produce fruit. The storms of life bring to shore all that you need for your journey ahead, which is more strength, power and endurance.

These hard moments fuel you, prepare you and position you for the very thing that you are hoping to achieve/see happen in your life.

When you have endured, when you have pushed past the hard moments, you will see that what was once your ALL OUT effort has become your new base pace!

Dont give up!

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,a whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking ANYTHING.”   James 1:2-4

 

 

 

Bitter.Sweet.

No, the world didn’t end on Saturday, but the Johnson family did finish a chapter in our lives and said farewell to one heck of an adventure.

Five years ago, BJ, myself, our two daughters and four of our friends journeyed to South Florida with a dream in our hearts and a vision from God. We began sharing this vision with anyone and everyone who would listen.

We met in coffee shops, in restuarants and gathered in homes, connecting people to this dream of planting a life-giving, authentic, fearless and fun church in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, FL.

In February of 2014, Influence Culture Church launched its first service. What a daring adventure it has been!

 

Before we set out on our journey across the country, the Holy Spirit shared with me that, “It’s not going to be like anything you have planned for it to be, but it will be everything you ever hoped that it would be.”

I didn’t like that statement at the time because I knew that meant my plans were not His plans and what I thought would be, most likely wasn’t going to be.

However, with every victory that we never planned for and with every hardship I didn’t feel prepared for, this promise became an anchor for my faith.

It continues to serve as an immovable anchor for me in this moment, right now as we follow His leading one more time and close the doors of Influence Culture, Fort Lauderdale.

It has been the hardest, most gut-wrenching thing we have ever had to do. And, at the same time, it’s been the most sure thing we have ever done–knowing that He is leading us, showing us and has already gone before us.

As we LOOK BACK, we are sure that nothing is wasted and that every seed that has been sown in faith, and every promise that has been made to us and to this beautiful place we’ve called home for the past 5 years, will yield fruit for the generations to come.

As we LOOK UP, we are reminded that
following Jesus is the most daring adventure we will ever experience. It’s a daily surrender of our plans, our dreams and our biggest fears.

As we LOOK AHEAD, I am sure that the best is yet to come. Jesus has never failed us, nor has He ever misled us.

I’m honored that the Lord would use our church to pray audacious prayers for the city of Fort Lauderdale and that He would use a handful of willing people to fearlessly believe for a move of God like never before.

I’m grateful that Jesus has entrusted my family with this vision! It has not always been easy but it has always been worth it–being right in the middle of His perfect will for us is where we desire to be.

I’m confident that He is with us and has already gone before us in this new chapter of our lives in North Carolina, where we will serve and to lead alongside BJ’s parents. (More information to come)

I don’t think there was ever a more appropriate time to use the term…. bitter sweet than in this moment.

Influence Culture Church, FTL…. I love you, always and forever.